Did you know that the number of Facebook users already exceeds 2 billion? And that the number of users who visit Instagram monthly reaches 1 billion? A good reason to rely on social media for promoting your business, isn’t it?
On the other hand, social media management is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if you have to maintain several profiles in different social networks. Below we’ll discuss the main factors in choosing tools for social media managers, as well as list the top 10 examples of such software that, in our opinion, work the best.
A Few Words about Social Media Management Tools
The overwhelming majority of social media managers begin their professional activities with controlling the social networks manually. At first, they manage only one profile. Then, with the addition of new accounts in various social networks and the increasing need for posting new publications, it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain the desired pace of work. It is for this reason that over time, many of them begin to introduce special software into their workflow.
Reasons to use social media marketing tools
As you already understand, the main reason for using SMM tools is the need to automate the workflow. This leaves the social media manager practically no way to “forget” to release another post at the right time and eliminates the need to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the computer.
Another, no less obvious reason for the introduction of specialized software is the need to increase the number of accounts on the same social network, which complicates the work of the social media manager. Switching from one account to another, juggling multiple passwords and logins – all these routine manipulations certainly do not add any joy to the work. On the other hand, SMM planning software automatically posts in all connected accounts, forming a single, centralized mechanism for managing publications.
Where to use social media marketing tools
Obviously, the work of a social media manager includes many things besides posting on the pages of company profiles or a promoted personality. Let’s consider all areas of activity that SMM tools for small business can cover.
ORM involves the use of social media reputation management tools that help consumers form the right idea about the brand or personality being promoted. Using ORM software, you can significantly mitigate the effects of smear campaigns, create proactive marketing strategies, and increase the brand’s area of influence on the Internet. As a rule, the main functionality of ORM software includes the detection and neutralization of negative content existing in the network, as well as the search and/or generation of positive references to the brand/personality.
This one speaks for itself: social media content management tools select web content based on the topics of your choice and save the links (or automatically post them in connected social network profiles).
Marketing management software automates the tasks of a social media manager related to the publishing of marketing contact.
Social media community management tools allow you to centrally manage subscriptions/unsubscriptions in specific social networks, to interact with subscribers, leave likes, etc.
Such software is used to optimize the processes of planning, executing, controlling, and evaluating marketing campaigns, making it possible to increase their efficiency and effectiveness several times.
Applications for time management can be divided into two groups: those that allow you to track the time spent on tasks, and those that form the schedule for the implementation of upcoming tasks (this is basically trigger software, where the specified event is automatically executed by a certain date/time – for example, posting a new publication in a specific account in a specific social network).
The list above contains only the most popular areas of application for special SMM software. In practice, there are many more.
And now let’s discuss the functions that must necessarily be present in your chosen SMM software:
- Integration with popular social networks. What you definitely shouldn’t do is choose a separate tool for each network. Fortunately, the range of software for social media managers is extensive enough to find an option that integrates with all the necessary social platforms;
- Integration with webmail services. This is another very important feature that will provide synchronization with all data stored in the company mailbox;
- Automated posting. Of course, the area of competence of a social media manager is a much larger number of tasks than just posting in social networks. However, the most popular type of SMM software is one where you can form a content plan for a certain period of time in advance, and the program will later upload posts according to the predefined schedule. Some tools only allow for sending reminders that you need to post a publication, which is not the most convenient option;
- Support for all types of media content. A good social media manager tries to diversify publications by using not only static pictures but also gifs and videos. Unfortunately, not all tools support these content formats, so it is very important to make sure yours does before installing;
- Available mobile version. The mobile version of the tool will allow you to manage social networks on the go, wherever you are.
Why and When Your Small Business Needs Social Media Management Tools
Still not sure whether your business really needs specialized online social media management tools? Let’s look into the advantages these tools bring to the table:
- Organizing social accounts. This is probably the most trivial way to use software for SMM. Such services simply create a single mechanism for maintaining social networks, regardless of the number of accounts;
- Scheduling posts. Choosing the optimal time for posting on different social media is very important because it determines the number of views and likes. The software is used in order to upload publications regularly and without your participation;
- Measuring social media stats. Some types of SMM software allow you to measure the important metrics of user activity in your business profiles. This will help you form an objective assessment of the effectiveness of your marketing strategies;
- Simplifying customer service. Some accounts in social networks require constant interaction with customers (of which there may be thousands). Answering all questions and complaints directly from the profile is not the most convenient option. This is where special software will come in handy.
Tool Evaluation Criteria
How do you know how useful this or that particular tool will be for SMM? We suggest evaluating the small business social media management tools that you are considering according to four criteria:
- Matching your goals. In fact, SMM is a fairly broad concept that includes posting, analyzing user activity, monitoring performance indicators, selecting and managing content, etc. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is decide which of these tasks your software should perform;
- Integration with social networks that are important for your business. Despite the facts that indicate the leadership of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, other social networks may be in higher demand for your particular business (for example, Twitter or LinkedIn). In general, be sure to find out which social platforms support integration with your chosen software tool before you think about purchasing it;
- The function of analyzing the competitors’ activity. This feature is one of the main criteria to consider when choosing a particular tool. Sometimes this helps to choose the most effective strategy for promotion (it is only natural that what worked for your competitors is likely to work for you as well);
- Analytics options. How do you see the effectiveness of your actions? That’s right: by looking at the analytics and statistics of your social accounts for a certain period of time. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for you to develop a winning strategy for your business.
10 Best Social Media Management Tools for Small Business
Finally, the most important thing: a review of 10 of the most popular social media management tools that will definitely prove useful for your social media manager.
The first one on our list of social media management tools is Nimble CRM: an advanced cloud solution for small and medium businesses, integrated with popular social platforms like LinkedIn. You can use it not only to directly track customer interactions at each stage of the sales funnel but also to take care of some tasks of social media managers, for example, providing feedback on social networks as part of customer service. As a result, you will receive an extremely versatile solution that will find active application in almost every department of your company.
You can try the trial version for free (it will remain active for 14 days after the date of registration). A full subscription-based version is also available, priced at just $19 per month.
Lately uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically turns blogs, online articles, videos and podcasts into dozens of amazing social media posts – so that small businesses can market themselves like a mega-brand without breaking the bank, losing their minds or barely lifting a finger. Pricing starts at $49/mo.
With Lately, businesses are able to replace social media agencies altogether. They can even automatically keep messaging compliant with corporate and editorial guidelines. Which is why larger companies have started using Lately not only for brand management but also for employee advocacy, executive thought leadership and management, and social selling.
- Cut social media creation and posting time by 90%
- Increase productivity by up to 80%
- Supercharge reach by up to 700x
- Boost engagement by an average of 50x
- Get hours of work done in less than 60 seconds
PostPlanner is an application for Facebook that helps social media managers automate their actions within their profile/profiles or business page/pages. In particular, you will have access to such features as post queuing (with indicating the time of their posting), targeting (to determine your target audience), placing links as images, automating RSS feeds, auto-searching for relevant content on the Internet, and so on.
Talking about the pricing policy of this service, it is a very good choice for a small business: the prices are very low, ranging from $3 per month (supporting 3 accounts and publishing up to 30 posts per day) and ending with $19 (supporting 25 accounts and publishing up to 250 posts per day). As your business grows, you can also customize your subscription to serve 200 accounts and more.
The free IFTTT app is a worthy competitor to the popular iOS app Workflow. It allows you to automate actions on your smartphone, and it does it all at a high level – the level of various services. This is quite enough to significantly facilitate the life of a social media manager.
In particular, you can program various triggers so that your smartphone implements a sequence of certain actions only if a certain event occurs. For example, you can program something like:
- IF @user posts a photo on Instagram, THEN save the photo to Dropbox
- IF my post gets a like, ТHEN send me an email notification.
The Hootsuite software tool is designed to work with social networks, providing users with advanced capabilities for managing social activity and tracking the performance metrics of your profile’s promotion.
Depending on the subscription plan ($19, $99, $599+), you will have support for 10 to 35+ profiles. You can also try the free version for each of the plans, which will be available to you during 30 days after the date of registration. And finally, you can test the free version with support for 3 profiles and 30 scheduled messages.
The web service Sprout Social is able to improve the profile activity metrics in social networks within a few days thanks to the functions of automated posting and user interaction. This tool supports teamwork as well as integration with social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Zendesk, and UserVoice. The most advanced version of Sprout Social supports simultaneous work with 20 accounts.
With the help of Sprout Social smart tools, you can raise the quality of work to a new level. In particular, it offers such useful features as Smart Inbox (for managing users’ reactions to your publications), Sprout Social Feeds (these are automatically updated feeds that can be viewed directly from the application), as well as Sprout Queue (designed to calculate the optimal time for posting publications).
As for pricing, there are three options for Sprout Social users: $99 per month (for 5 user profiles), $149 per month (for 10 user profiles) and $249 per month (for 10 user profiles, with access to additional features). You can also try a free trial version for each of the three plans, which is active for 30 days.
Agorapulse web service allows you to manage content for social networks from multiple accounts at once. It is integrated with such well-known social platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+. Here you can see all messages left by your followers and readers, compare your profile with competitors’ profiles, monitor the indicators important for your chosen SMM strategy, launch promotions, offers, etc.
You can test the app for free for 14 days. Additionally, you will have access to a number of tools that are free for all users, regardless of their plan. As for the paid versions, options are available ranging from $79 (this is an ideal choice for small businesses) to $459 per month.
BuzzSumo is another tool for analyzing social channels and managing content marketing. This application helps to search the web for content based on the search queries you specified in advance, as well as statistical data such as the number of likes, shares, etc. Using BuzzSumo, you can find suitable content for posting in absolutely any market niche.
Besides, BuzzSumo will make it easier to track the activity on your competitors’ social networks and help you determine who occupies a leading position in your niche when it comes to SMM.
This is a paid solution. The cost of a subscription, depending on the functionality, ranges from $79 to $499 per month (although it may be higher – this depends on the general list of features you choose when customizing this service).
Likeable Local is an ideal software product for managing social network profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and implementing marketing strategies. It allows users not only to create and schedule publications but also to launch ads, as well as work on strategies to increase the total number of followers (automated likes, shares, unfollowing old profiles and following new ones, etc.).
Likeable Local offers four subscription options: Automated, Custom, Lead, and Social. In order to find out the cost of a specific option, you will need to send an inquiry, and the cost will be calculated based on your specific requirements for the software product.
SocialPilot is a cloud-based application for scheduling posts in multiple social network accounts. SocialPilot allows you to create charts for the analysis of profiles in social networks, groups and pages on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter in order to increase the coverage and the company’s presence in social networks. SocialPilot integrates with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Among the features of this application are connecting to accounts in social networks, scheduling posts, managing groups, automating the feed, sharing publications from well-known websites, etc.
This is a paid web service that offers several options for monthly/annual subscriptions. The most budget-friendly option for a month is $25, and the most expensive one is $83.33. You can also try the 2-week free version.
Our list of social media marketing management tools would not be complete without Crowdfire: a web service for managing followers and accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Its developers have provided as many as four options for subscriptions, ranging from free (for one account) and ending with the VIP-version, with a monthly cost of $74.98 (here you can manage as many as 50 (!) accounts).
What does this service do? First of all, it automatically finds content that will appeal to the audience and posts it in all accounts. Next, the service automatically generates posts based on past content and publishes them according to a predetermined schedule. And, finally, with its help, you can control all your accounts by following and unfollowing users to boost the attendance of your own profile, increase the number of likes and shares, and improve other parameters important for SMM.
How to Choose a Right Tool for Your Business
Let’s finish our article with a number of recommendations on the choice of social media management tools for small business:
- Consider the cost. Perhaps one of the most decisive factors when choosing a particular social media management software is its cost. Just remember that sometimes it makes sense to choose the paid option and get an all-in-one product, rather than make do with very limited functionality of the free version;
- Aim for scalability. When you analyze the possibilities of this or that tool, be sure to pay attention to how well this software can accommodate the further scaling up of your business: some software products, for example, do not allow managing more than 10 social network accounts;
- Pay attention to the possibility of integration of third-party web services and applications. This is another important criterion that determines the usefulness of the tool you choose. After all, switching between several windows is not the best solution, especially if you have more than a dozen accounts.
Let’s sum up our review of the best social media management tools for small business owners. As you can see, the right choice of software can not only facilitate the work of a social media manager but also increase the total number of supported accounts without the risk of quality deteriorating. We offer you to try our Nimble CRM – the ideal solution for small businesses that will become your personal assistant in working with clients and third-party applications and web services.